Yesterday I shared that I am seeking to become not just a person who prays… but rather a person of prayer. One of the ways I am pursuing this has been through "fixed hour prayer" (morning and evening… although at this point I'm much better at te morning) using a "breviary" or prayer book as my guide. This may sound a little strange to some, but I am finding that for me it has been having a profound impact on my prayer life. Currently I am using a celtic prayer book called "Sounds of the Eternal" as my guide. There is a simple service of prayer for morning and night that includes brief scripture readings (although I generally go off on my own here… reading more that the few verses they have included), prayers of thanks, prayers for other people, etc. There's also space within the "form" for silence and my own words as well. I've never been too sure about praying prayers that someone else wrote with no knowledge of me or the context in which I live, but I think one of the things that I'm discovering is that prayer is more than just my words. It is more than just a conversation between me and God. Prayer is a conversation between God and the community of God's people. As always, yes, God is interested in me and what I have to say, but quite frankly there are times when I don't know what to say… when I don't know what to pray. This is where I am finding that praying these prayers is changing me. This morning is the perfect example. In a few hours, along with a team from our church community, I will be delivering groceries to families in a low income neighborhood in our area. As I was praying this morning I found my thoughts to be all over the place. My times of silence were being invaded by thoughts of my to-do list and other distractions. I was frustrated by my lack of focus, but instead of trying to force things any further I decided to move forward to the closing prayer for the morning in my book. Here's what it said:
In the many details of this day
let me be fully alive.
In the handling of food
and the sharing of drink
in the preparing of work
and the uttering of words,
in the meeting of friends
and the interminglings of relationship
let me be fully alive to each instant, O God,
let me be fully alive.
Those were not words that I could have come up with on my own this morning, but they spoke when I could not. This is the prayer I was longing to pray this morning, but could not find the focus or the words to pray on my own. We often pray that the Spirit will intercede for us when we have no words… when our groans are too deep for words to express (that's right from the Bible BTW). Maybe one of the ways the Spirit intercedes is by giving us words shared with the community of God's people across oceans and time and all that is in between through simple words on a page.